Revolt of the French Chefs

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 16, 1999 | Go to article overview

Revolt of the French Chefs


When you can't have a sit-down meal without being eaten up by taxes, things are getting pretty bad. French chefs, outraged by the recent imposition of a special 20.6 percent surcharge on restaurant meals, hurled eggs, rotten vegetable and maybe even a crepe or three at police during a massive protest in Paris earlier this month. The angry chefs were making their way to the National Assembly to make their case to French lawmakers - but things got ugly (and smelly) as "well-provisioned" chefs began to let loose with the cabbage on riot police, who took it for a few minutes before responding with tear gas to break up the melee.

With tax rates so high, it's no wonder the chefs are food-fighting mad. French diners must already fork over an obligatory service charge which, when added to the 20.6 percent levy, amounts to a tax equivalent to one-third of a patron's meal. Thus, a $40 lunch would carry an $8 restaurant tax - plus the service charge. Sacre bleu.

Meanwhile, if lunchers sate their hunger at a fast-food joint, the tax rate is only 5.5 percent -which the chefs and other opponents of the restaurant tax argue is discriminatory and makes life difficult for native French restaurateurs but relatively easy for multinational corporations, such as McDonald's. …

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